Brighton 1-1 Newcastle: Pascal Gross' equaliser edges hosts towards survival
Report and highlights as Brighton move four points clear of relegation zone with two games remaining
Last Updated: 28/04/19 7:15am
Brighton took a step closer towards Premier League survival after fighting back from a goal down to secure a 1-1 draw with Newcastle on Saturday evening.
Following Cardiff's defeat to Fulham earlier in the day, Brighton had the opportunity to all-but secure their top-flight status for next season with a victory at home to Newcastle.
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However, it was Rafael Benitez's side, who secured their Premier League survival last weekend, who claimed an 18th-minute lead thanks to Ayoze Perez's fifth goal in his last three matches.
Chris Hughton's side put a lacklustre first-half performance behind them as Pascal Gross grabbed what could prove to be a valuable equaliser 15 minutes from time to move them four points clear of the relegation zone with two games remaining.
The point means Cardiff must now win their final two games against Crystal Palace and Manchester United to have any chance of overhauling Brighton, who also hold a significant goal difference advantage over Neil Warnock's side.
b>Brighton: Ryan (7), Bruno (6), Duffy (6), Dunk (6), Bernardo (6), Stephens (6), Kayal (5), Gross (7), Izquierdo (5), And one (5), Murray (6).
Subs: March (8), Bissouma (6), Knockaert (7).
Newcastle: Dubravka (6), Manquillo (6), Schar (7), Fernandez (6), Dummett (7), Ritchie (7), Hayden (6), Shelvey (7), Atsu (6), Perez (7), Rondon (7).
Subs: Kenedy (6), Ki (6), Muto (n/a)
Man of the match: Solly March
How Brighton secured a point
Ahead of kick-off, there was a sense of optimism around the Amex Stadium as news of Cardiff's defeat at Craven Cottage filtered through.
However, Brighton turned in a poor first-half performance and it was Newcastle who went in front thanks to Perez's powerful strike.
Fresh from his hat-trick against Southampton last weekend, Perez, who was replaced by Kenedy just before the break due to injury, smashed Salomon Rondon's chest down into the top corner from 15 yards.
The introduction of Solly March, who replaced Florian Andone, eventually sparked the hosts into life and with time starting to run out, they grabbed the all-important equaliser.
Bruno's floated cross was headed on by Glenn Murray and Gross reacted quickest to beat Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka to the ball and nod home for his side's first goal in 735 minutes in all competitions.
It could have got even better for Brighton in the final minutes. Murray had a golden chance to grab a dramatic winner and virtually ensure his side's survival but he headed over from close range from Knockaert's cross, leaving Hughton's men to wait a little longer to secure their Premier League status.
Man of the Match - Solly March
The 24-year-old made a real difference for Brighton coming off the bench at half-time.
He drove his side forward at every opportunity and asked questions of the Newcastle defence with a number of testing crosses into the penalty area.
Chris Hughton: "[It's] a step, but probably my responsibility is really not to feel too much until we know that, mathematically, we are safe. We have two games left. The cautious part of me has to think that anything can happen.
"Cardiff are home to [Crystal] Palace in their next game and, if they win that one, then it's momentum going into their last game at [Manchester] United. Certainly it's a better feeling at this moment than it was at half-time.
"Relaxed isn't the word. It's relief from what looked such a poor performance in the first half and coming away from today's game with no points to showing a really spirited second half, better quality performance that allowed us to get something from the game."
Rafael Benitez on his future: "Not really. Today was about the game. The day we have any news, we'll let you know. Every day counts because in the end you want to do everything possible to start working. But we will see.
"This morning I saw Lee (Charnley, managing director). We talk every week. I'm relaxed. It's not depending on me. I am waiting. It's very clear: everyone has his own ideas. What do we want to do in the future? That is the key.
"If we have different visions, we'll have to find a point in between that we are happy with, if not we have to talk and try and move forward as soon as possible."
- Brighton have won just two of their last 16 Premier League matches (W2 D4 L10), and are winless in their last seven.
- Newcastle have won four points from their last two Premier League away games (W1 D1), one more than they'd mustered in their previous eight combined (W0 D3 L5).
- Only Huddersfield (14) have conceded more headed goals in the Premier League this season than Newcastle (13).
- Ayoze Perez and Salomon Rondon have combined for seven Premier League goals this season - the most by a Newcastle duo in a season since 1999-2000 (Alan Shearer and Nolberto Solano, eight goals).
- Newcastle's Ayoze Perez has scored seven goals in his last seven Premier League games, as many as he had in his previous 33 in the competition.
- Rondon has been directly involved in 44% of Newcastle's Premier League goals this season (16/36); only Eden Hazard (49%) has recorded a higher share for his side in 2018-19.
- Glenn Murray provided his first ever Premier League assist for Brighton and his first since April 2015 for Crystal Palace versus Sunderland, ending a run of 97 apps without one.
Brighton can secure Premier League survival next weekend when they face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, live on Sky Sports. Their final game of the season is at home to Manchester City on Sunday, May 12 (3pm)
Newcastle finish their season against Liverpool, which is also live on Sky Sports on Saturday, May 4 (7.45pm) before a trip to Fulham on May 12 (3pm).